What You Can Find in the Library Part IV: Architectural Collections

Hannah D. Cox, Archivist/Librarian

The Plaza Tower Architectural Rendering by Roy Hilton for architect Marcus, T. Reynolds, 1918
The Plaza Tower Architectural Rendering by Roy Hilton for architect Marcus, T. Reynolds, 1918
What do you picture when you think of what might be in an architectural collection? Blueprints is likely your first guess. While architectural collections usually do hold blueprints, drawings, and sketches of work an architect has performed, there are often other fascinating troves of materials that are all too frequently overlooked. Architectural collections can include proposed works that were never built or that were built by another firm. There may be business records of a firm such as contractscorrespondence, and specifications about a project. These collections may also hold photographs and scrapbooks, containing information about projects and the architects who designed them. Some such collections also include models of buildings, although most of those at the Albany Institute do not. Researchers can use these collections to learn how a particular building was built, how the design may have changed from the original idea (and sometimes why)tensions within a firm or issues during a projectand often come away with some sense of the architects as human beings, whimsies and flaws included.  

The Library holds architectural collections from architects who designed Albany-area buildings. For some, the Library has acquired personal materials, as well. Due to their sheer size, not all of the architectural collections have been processed, but we look forward to remedying that as soon as possible! 

The Robert W. Gibson Cathedral of All Saints Drawings

Robert W. Gibson (1854-1927) was an English-born architect who designed numerous buildings across New York State. Following his immigration to America around 1880, Gibson entered a design competition hosted by Bishop William Croswell Doane to design the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany. He edged out several well-known architects to secure his win in 1882, using an English Gothic model to meet Doane’s requirements. 

The Gibson Drawings held by the Library contain only those of the Cathedral of All Saints. This unprocessed collection does have an inventory and includes many detailed drawings of various features such as the windows and gargoyles, as well as plans and elevation drawings. 

Image on left: Cathedral of All Saints Architectural Drawing, circa 1883; Image on right: Cathedral of All Saints, Plan of the Window at East End of Choir Aisle, circa 1883

The A.L. Lewis Architectural Drawings, 1921-1975

Abraham Lincoln (A.L.) Lewis worked as an architect in the Albany, New York area from 1934 until 1985. Lewis began his career in 1934 with the New York State Department of Public Works (NYSDPW). After leaving that position in 1966, he worked for himself and eventually formed his own company, A.L. Lewis Associated Architects, in 1970. Following a brief retirement from 1974-1981, Lewis returned to work, this time an employee of Harris A. Sanders Associates, where he remained until retiring in 1986. 
 
This collection has been processed and has an available finding aid. It contains architectural plans of a number of Albany-area buildings such as the National Commercial Bank at 54 State Street, Stuyvesant Plaza, and Mechanic's Exchange Bank and Office Building, among other building developments. In addition to drawings, this collection also includes design changes and updates, surveys, site specifications, and photographs. 
 
Albany Public Market, circa 1960s, from the A.L. Lewis Architectural Drawings
Albany Public Market, circa 1960s, from the A.L. Lewis Architectural Drawings

Marcus T. Reynolds

Marcus Tullius Reynolds (1869-1937) was born in Massachusetts but moved to Albany following the death of his mother. Marcus and his brother Cuyler (who would become and Albany historian and author) were raised here by their father’s sister, Laura, who was the widow of Bayard Van Rensselaer. Beginning his career as an architect in 1893, Reynolds designed buildings mostly in Albany with a few others in the surrounding areas. Although known for many of his designs, one of Reynolds’ most notable works is the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Company Building in downtown Albany. 
 
The Library holds two collections specifically related to Reynolds. One is his collection of diaries, which encompasses 39 volumes. Mostly person in nature, these journals include business appointments, recorded sports scores, weather conditions, and miscellaneous notes from 1899-1937. 
 
The other collection is very large and unprocessed, although there is a spreadsheet inventory available in the Library. This collection includes 225 drawings, blueprints, and other materials for many of the other buildings Reynolds or his office designed. 
 

Schade Collection

Charles Argow Schade, a prominent Albany architect during the mid-20th Century, was born in Albany in 1910 to Catherine and William C. Schade, who was also an architect. Particularly known for his work on churches around Albany, he designed the Christian Education Building of the First Congregational Church of Albany in 1960, as well as the Freihofer Baking Plant addition in 1963. His father, William, was also a well-known designer of religious and residential properties. Two of his works were the Slingerlands United Methodist Church in 1871, and the St. Casimir’s Church Complex in Albany in 1896. 

The Library holds many materials related to both William and Charles Schade. This collection includes drawings, certificates, photographs, and other materials, and while unprocessed, there is a partial inventory. 

The Architects, Pratt Institute Club - Students (Charles Schade far right), 1931
The Architects, Pratt Institute Club - Students (Charles Schade far right), 1931

Gander, Gander, and Gander Architects

The Library includes other architectural collection as well, including the records of Gander, Gander, and Gander Architects, whose work included the Main Post Office in Albany and the Courthouse Building, located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane. The materials in this collection focus on the Post Office building, but also includes other records. 

As always, please contact us with any questions, and stay tuned for our next post in this series: Part V: Bibles. 

23 April 2020